But now, with the issues seemingly behind them, the path appears to be clear for Wayne to release Tha Carter V some time in the future, though the resolution of the lawsuits remains up in the air. Billboard revisits the major events of what could credibly be called one of the most unfortunate rap beefs in music history.
Dec. 4, 2014
After multiple delays of his long-awaited 11th solo studio album -- reported to be his last -- Tha Carter V, Lil Wayne took to Twitter to air out his problems with longtime label boss Birdman and the only recording home he's ever known, Cash Money Records. "To all my fans, I want u to know that my album won't and hasn't been released bekuz Baby & Cash Money Rec. refuse to release it," he typed, before continuing, "I want off this label and nothing to do with these people but unfortunately it ain't that easy," adding, "I am a prisoner and so is my creativity."
Jan. 13, 2015
Longtime Lil Wayne manager Cortez Bryant took to Instagram to defend his client in two separate posts, saying, "Wayne carried Cash Money on his back for over 10 years when he could have left and did this on his own... He don't deserve the sh-- he's going through at this point in the game."
Jan. 20, 2015
Lil Wayne released Sorry 4 The Wait 2, firing shots at Cash Money and Birdman on his remix of OT Genasis' "Coco," rapping, "Birdman Jr.? More like ugly duckling" and, "Cash Money is an army/I’m a one man army/And if them n---as comin’ for me, I’m going out like Tony." Birdman was reportedly less than pleased.
Jan. 28, 2015
Lil Wayne filed a lawsuit against Cash Money Records for $51 million, demanding his release from the label and alleging that Birdman and company violated the terms of Wayne's contract by repeatedly delaying Tha Carter V. The lawsuit claims that Cash Money had failed to make payments and documents available dating back to 2013, hadn't shared royalties over Drake recordings for Cash Money with Wayne's Young Money imprint, that recordings for Wayne's I Am Not A Human Being II album were filed solely as owned by Cash Money rather than jointly as Cash Money/Lil Wayne, and that Cash Money failed to pay Wayne's $8 million advance for Tha Carter V plus the $2 million owed to him when he delivered the finished album in December 2014.
Feb. 19, 2015
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Wayne said that he and Birdman, despite their decades-long business and personal relationship, were no longer speaking due to the issues in his contract. "I have no words," he told the magazine. "I'm super-numb to it, to tell you the truth."
March 15, 2015
In a Young Money cypher alongside Gudda Gudda, Lil Twist, Cory Gunz, Flow, Euro and Hood released via Karen Civil's CivilTV, Lil Wayne digs at Birdman again, rapping, “I thank you for my hit, man/And tell 'Pac I’m a big fan/I sing 'Dear Mama' to my dear mama/And sing 'Hit Em Up' to my daddy b---- a--."
Apr. 10, 2015
Apparently making matters between Wayne and Birdman even more strained, the Cash Money boss began spending much of his time with his rising protege Young Thug, who is not signed to CM but had been spotted with Birdman multiple times over the previous months. And after Thug announced his intention to name his next release Carter 6 -- ostensibly in homage, though that would change -- Wayne became incensed, dissing Cash Money and Thug at a nightclub appearance. Thug would eventually change the title to Barter 6 due to copyright claims surrounding the use of the Carter name. The two would trade disses -- Thug via Instagram, Wayne via club appearances -- over the next several days.
Apr. 26, 2015
Following a performance in Young Thug's hometown of Atlanta, Lil Wayne's tour bus was shot at repeatedly on the highway. No one was injured, and a month later, former Thug road manager Jimmy "PeeWee" Winfrey was arrested for the shooting and charged with aggravated assault, terroristic threats, possession of a firearm by a felon and criminal gang activity, according to reports.
July 4, 2015
Still locked in to his Cash Money contract and unable to release a new album, Lil Wayne turned to Jay Z's Tidal to drop his Free Weezy Album exclusively with the service. The move prompted Birdman to sue Jay Z -- the two had beef in the past when Jay tried to lure Lil Wayne to Roc Nation during a prior contract negotiation -- for $50 million, alleging that the "mixed reviews" of the project would hurt Wayne's album sales in the future.
July 13, 2015
During a Lil Wayne performance at Miami nightclub LIV, a member of Birdman's entourage reportedly threw a drink at Wayne, causing the rapper to stop his set and the club to be shut down for the night.
July 16, 2015
Birdman and Young Thug were named -- but not charged -- in the indictment against Jimmy Winfrey regarding the shooting of Lil Wayne's tour bus in April. The indictment alleges that Winfrey contacted both Thug and Birdman before and after the incident, respectively, tying them into the alleged plot. Birdman would later profusely and repeatedly deny the connection.
July 28, 2015
In an interview with Power 105's Angie Martinez, Birdman addressed many of the situations that have risen out of his long-running beef with Lil Wayne, stating that Nicki Minaj and Drake -- both signed to Young Money -- were not leaving the label, denying that he threw a bottle at Wayne and saying he didn't know how the contractual situation would resolve itself. “We’re going to [clear the air], but this ain’t the time or the place to do that,” Birdman said, indicating things would cool down "in due time. “I know he’s traveling, I know his schedule... I'ma wait 'til the proper time.” Regarding Wayne's tweets against him and Cash Money, Birdman added, "For that man to say something negative about me, that affected my life.”
Jan. 1, 2016
After a few months of relative quiet, Lil Wayne and Birdman were spotted together taking several photos with the Young Money/Cash Money crew, including Drake, Mack Maine and 2 Chainz, at Drake's New Year's Eve at the E11even nightclub in Miami. It marked the first time the two had been seen together publicly in more than a year.
Jan. 19, 2016
In as official a statement as we're likely to get on the matter, Lil Wayne and Birdman publicly took the stage at -- where else? -- a Miami nightclub, with Birdman telling the crowd at LIV, “This my motherfuckin' son and I'ma die for him, I'ma live for him, and I'll motherfuckin' kill for him... That ain't gonna never change, n----. It's YMCMB for life, and we gon' live this shit.” The two then performed together in a further show of solidarity. So, after 13 months, is the beef finally dead?
UPDATE: Feb. 25, 2016
Lil Wayne and Birdman united on wax for Mannie Fresh's new record "Hate," also featuring Juvenile. "I've put a lot of effort into making this track happen," Fresh said in a statement about Baby and Weezy. "I've always been the liaison between these guys, they took my word and put their trust in me in bringing everyone together for this hot track."
Listen to Mannie Fresh Bring Lil Wayne, Juvenile & Birdman Together On 'Hate'
May 25, 2016
Lil Wayne reportedly called off settlement talks in the $51 million suit with Birdman, according to TMZ. Reps for both camps did not respond to Billboard's requests for comment. The news comes after Wayne expressed his feelings about Cash Money at a May 21 performance in Denver. "F--k the bullshit," he told the crowd. "F--k Cash Money."
May 28, 2016
Lil Wayne continued to slam Cash Money at a show in Phoenix, Arizona. After leading concertgoers into "F--k the Birdman" and "F--k Cash Money" chants, he promised two more albums on the way. "I’m going through a lot of bullsh-t right now these n---as got me in bars right now, they don’t want to see me make good music," Weezy added. "I don’t know what the f--k’s going on, but f--k them n---as."